Nobody was expecting bad weather in Bellpuig, where the Motocross World Championship stops this weekend for the second round of the season. Instead of shorts and sunglasses, everybody was wearing sweatshirts and looked for raincoats and umbrellas… With less than 10° out on the track and continuous showers in Catalonia , the Spanish track was not as expected by teams, riders, promoter and media. Rain started before noon and didn’t stop, but luckily the track was always rideable and both MX2 qualifying races and MX1 time practice session were run under bearable conditions.
After Zolder, Mickaël Pichon gained his second pole position in a row for his first appearance on a muddy track with a four-stroke. Always fast under muddy conditions, the French rider clocked his pole mid-session, pushing Everts back into second. “I was expecting nice weather here but this didn’t happen. There was not much time to practice under rainy conditions since my injury and I’m always a little bit scared on a slippery track as it’s really easy to crash. I got the pole so I will be the first to choose my place on the grid and that’s really important as the start will be the key to the race,” said Pichon.
Leader of the two free practice sessions, Kenneth Gundersen was really impressive and finally took second position on his factory KTM; the Norwegian rider had stomach troubles in Flanders but enjoyed the low temperatures and finished the session only 0.3 seconds behind Pichon. Among the top ten riders Stefan Everts did less laps than anyone, in order to manage his damaged thumb for the race; the seventh time world champion recorded his fastest lap first time out and then went back in the pits after only six laps. Fourth and fifth Brian Jorgensen and Joel Smets, confirmed their ambitions for the race while Joshua Coppins was sixth, Cedric Melotte ninth and Steve Ramon in twelfth didn’t shine too brightly after their brilliant performance in Zolder.
But the race will be a different story apart from this half hour qualifying session and if the rain doesn’t stop the start will be essential, as the track will have mainly one dry line.
With Ben Townley and Marc De Reuver involved in the same qualifying heat, the first race was exciting as both riders never gave up. Only fifth at the start De Reuver pushed hard and came back to second, reducing the gap to his teammate and even passed him four laps to the end. Marc then made a few mistakes and lost the race, finishing second behind Ben but far in front of Kawasaki boys Maschio and Sword third and fourth. The second race gave to the Italian fans the first good new of the weekend with teenager Antonio Cairoli’s win. After Chiodi’s retirement (too much pain to his injured hand), Federici’s crash (damaged ankle) and Bartolini’s problems (always suffering from his hand Andrea qualified only in tenth for the race), Cairoli got another holeshot and led the entire race. Andrew McFarlane confirmed his good Belgium result with a second spot, while French teenager Sébastien Pourcel got third place; his best ever qualification.
Tomorrow the MX2 races are scheduled at 12.05 and 15.05, and the MX1 at 13.05 and 16.05.
Info (C) Youthstream, Pascal Haudiquert – Photographer : A. Hodgkinson